Thursday, March 02, 2023

Reducing overprescribing in the NHS

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) produced a report in September 2021 to reduce overprescribing of medication. According to the Sunday Express (see article), NHS England is due to unveil a scheme in the spring aimed at weaning the health service off a culture of ‘a pill for every ill’. 

As the DHSC report says, what’s needed to reduce overprescribing is already known: shared decision-making with patients; better guidance and support for clinicians; more alternatives to medicines, such as physical and social activities and talking therapies; and more Structured Medication Reviews (SMR) for long-term health conditions. The problem is that “Many patients do not feel that they experience a compassionate, coordinated service that pays enough attention to their individual needs, assets, values, preferences and priorities”. The College of Medicine (see webpage) launched its Beyond Pills Campaign in 2022. A cultural change to reduce the reliance on medication and to support shared decision-making would be very welcome, not least for mental health services.

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